Information for Beginners
Injuries for Aikido practioners are much less than other martial arts because of the nature of the Art. However, less is not zero. Strained muscles, bruises and sudden impacts with ‘yielding’ structures (such as other students) are not uncommon.
Interested beginners should check with their doctors to determine if they are physically capable of doing moderate exercise involving falls with light to moderate impact. Those with prior back or neck injuries will require a discussion with the dojo-cho before enrolling. It is possible to begin very lightly and build the necessary stamina, and it is also possible to perform many of the techniques without falling, so talk to the dojo-cho before deciding that you can’t study. There are few actual restrictions on physical conditioning.
Those with long-term blood-borne conditions, such as Hepatitis-C or HIV, may not participate as there are possibilities for ‘leakage’ – torn toenails, fingernails, bitten lip, etc.
What to bring for the first practice
A ‘gi’. (if you have one) Lightweight sweatpants and a t-shirt will do to start, if you don’t. Shorts are not recommended because your knees will suffer from rubbing on the mats.
Strictly speaking Aikido is practiced in a ‘keikogi’ or ‘practice clothing’. A lightweight ‘karate’ version of these can be purchased from sporting goods stores for approximately $25. Otherwise a heavier-weight ‘judo’ gi can be purchase on-line. Make the investment after you’ve decided on this Art as a lasting practice.
Your mind. Seriously. (It’s a study of mind and body harmony)
What to expect
Aikido classes consist of demonstration of a technique, followed by paired
practice. One student is ‘the bad guy’, the ‘attacker’ or uke, and the other is ‘the good guy,’ the ‘defender’ or nage. The actual definition of uke’s role is that of ‘he who receives the technique’ and nage’s as ‘he who gives the technique.’ What it looks like is: you attack, your partner ‘applies’ a technique, the one demonstrated, and you land on the mat. Then you get up and do it again. After a bit, you switch roles with your partner and you get to apply the technique to him (or her, gender is not considered in the techniques). Remember that the ideal here is to neutralize the attack, not hurt the attacker. It’ll be his turn to do it to you next…